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Articles: Professional Development

Our institutions of higher learning are populated by experts in a wide range of fields—smart people with strong problem-solving abilities. This past year, as a first-time college president, it occurred to me that I should make a concerted effort to harness this brainpower for the good of my institution and its students. I envisioned a program that would motivate faculty and staff at Marymount University (Va.) to engage in creative, collaborative thinking to develop cost-saving, revenue-generating, and process-improving initiatives.

Programmer Juan Mena was key in bringing  document management to the admission office.

At first glance, the issue faced by Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University (Calif.) may not seem too daunting: a few thousand applications a year and 1,600 students enrolled in 16 programs at five campuses. What’s so tough about that?

Four different programs were being used for end-of-course evaluations, and the disparate system was inconsistent and slow. The college purchased an online system with automatic emails delivering a personalized URL specifically for the class taken. The pilot achieved a savings of more than $17,000.

The recession hit Michigan, home of the nation’s automotive industry, hard in 2008 and 2009. For Autocam Corp. in Grand Rapids, this meant taking drastic action to protect its business and 1,500-employee workforce. As the precision manufacturer of automotive components for equipment manufacturers and suppliers saw its business dwindle, it cut back its machinists’ standard 50-hour work week to 45 hours, then 40 hours, says Jim Woczynski, Autocam’s human resource director. Even then, some layoffs had to be made.

If you want a comprehensive view of the world of higher education, look no further than your local bookstore. Every month sees a wave of releases by administrators, scholars, analysts, and more focusing on the current state—good and bad—of higher education. We’ve chosen to highlight here some of the more interesting titles that have arrived at our offices. You’ll probably notice a common thread of thought among them. All the books below advocate dramatic changes to the very nature of higher education, and in many cases, they don’t just suggest change, they demand it.

Given widespread protests against rising tuition and the impending doubling of student loan interest rates, one might expect to see students picketing on a college campus. But at Fairfield University (Conn.) in May, the shoe was on the other foot, as nearly 100 faculty and students picketed outside President Jeffrey P. von Arx’s annual address to faculty.

The reason? The Fairfield U administration, faced with budget woes and shrinking enrollment, wants to end a long-standing practice of paying professors as well as, or better than, peers in comparable institutions.

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